Native Dogs of the Americas Were Wiped Out by European Colonization

Study: Ancient North American dogs were nearly wiped out after arrival of European breeds

Study: Ancient North American dogs were nearly wiped out after arrival of European breeds

Native dogs across North America all but disappeared as a result of Europeans arriving in the Western Hemisphere some 500 years ago, a study published Thursday found.

Lead archaeologist Dr Angela Perri from Durham University, co-first author on the study, added: "Archaeological evidence has long suggested that ancient dogs had a dynamic history in the Americas, but the fate of these pre-contact dogs and their relationship to modern American dog populations was largely unknown". A second new study uses a battery of DNA analyses of both modern and ancient canines to search for clues. This defies the popular notion that American dogs had evolved from North American wolves.

The research suggests that modern "North American" dogs, such as the Chihuahua, are actually mainly descended from Eurasian breeds introduced to the Americas after the 15th century. The dogs were not domesticated North American wolves, as some have speculated, but likely followed their human counterparts over a land bridge that once connected North Asia and the Americas, the study found.

A new study sheds light on the history of dogs and their role in human life, though many mysteries remain.

Linderholm, who directs the BIG (bioarchaeology and genomics lab) at Texas A&M and who did much of the genome work, said, "The sudden disappearance of dogs in America was probably associated with European colonization, but we don't know the details yet".

It appears that native dog populations could have been wiped out through a number of causes, including disease, persecution and Europeans' desire to raise their own breeds. But very few traces of the domesticated dog native to North America exists. Europeans might have simply preferred to only breed and sustain the dogs they brought over from their homelands. Colonists who killed entire villages of people would also kill their dogs. It could also be that European dogs were just favoured for whatever reason. The experts received samples of dogs during the excavations held in the territory of modern IL. He noted that we had only sequenced the nuclear DNA of three other ancient dogs until now.

Modern dogs, the study reveals, contain nearly no traces of those original dogs with one big exception: a cancer that is spread from dog to dog through mating, resulting in a malignant tumor.

Elaine Ostrander, chief of the cancer genetics and comparative genomics branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute, tells Wei-Haas, "It's the world's oldest continuously propagated cell line, which is really, really remarkable". This story begins and ends with the question of when and where this mysterious founder dog lived when its cancer lineage first emerged.

The researchers analyzed genetic material from 71 "pre-contact" dogs, whose remains spanned 9,000 years, and compared it with the DNA of 145 modern dogs. Though more research is needed to confirm the hypothesis, "such a scenario is entirely plausible", he said.

"It is fascinating that a population of dogs that inhabited many parts of the Americas for thousands of years, and that was an integral part of so many Native American cultures, could have disappeared so rapidly", study coauthor Laurent Frantz of Queen Mary University and the University of Oxford says in a statement. Instead, the analysis confirmed, the dogs were most closely related to an ancient Eastern Siberian stock.

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